SEAT Arona review
The SEAT Arona is a well-rounded small SUV, with refined engines and generous standard equipment
The SEAT Arona is one of the leading offerings among the burgeoning array of small SUVs currently on the market. It offers a composed and refined drive – albeit one that’s short on pure thrills or involvement – and SEAT’s decision to pitch it above the Ibiza means that all versions receive pretty generous standard equipment.
It’s not the most practical car in the class, but is just about big enough to fit the brief as a small family car. At least it gives drivers the elevated driving position that makes small SUVs like this so appealing, while the engine range delivers a good mix of performance and economy.
The SEAT Arona went on sale in 2017, and is the smallest SUV in the Spanish car maker's range. It slots in below the Ateca compact model and Tarraco seven-seater, and features the same sharp styling cues that are common across the SEAT range.
Under the skin, the Arona is based on the same running gear as the Ibiza supermini, and offers a bit more space thanks to its more upright body. Its small dimensions mean it's a rival for cars such as the Citroen C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, Vauxhall Crossland X, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Nissan Juke.
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Power comes from a 1.0 TSI petrol in 95PS and 115PS guises, plus a 1.6 TDI 95PS diesel. The lower powered 1.0 TSI 95PS has a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the 115PS can be had with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox. The 1.6 TDI has either a five-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG. All cars are front-wheel drive - there's no option of the 4Drive 4x4 system found on the larger Ateca, and no special traction control as used on the C3 Aircross or 2008.
SEAT offers a range of trims that are on the sporty side to go with the company's dynamic image. It kicks off with SE, then SE Technology, SE Technology Lux, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux. There’s a lot of flexibility with engine and trim combinations - the 1.0-litre 95PS petrol is sensibly only offered with the SE and SE Technology, while these levels are also accompanied by a 1.0-litre 115PS DSG version and a 1.6TDI diesel with 95PS for those seeking superior economy. The SE Technology Lux, with adaptive cruise control, standard winter pack and space saver spare wheel is orientated more towards those who favour longer trips and, as such, is paired only with the diesel.
The FR and FR Sport are available with manual and automatic versions of the 1.0-litre 115PS engine, along with a range-topping 1.5-litre 150PS petrol unit providing suitable performance. The Xcellence and Xcellence Lux again provide a choice of either the 1.0-litre 115PS petrol or 1.6TDI diesel, both with manual or automatic transmission.
All cars are pretty well equipped, with roof rails, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, air con, Bluetooth and alloy wheels included even on the entry-level SE model. We'd recommend upgrading to SE Technology, as this includes rear parking sensors and the Connectivity Pack that adds sat-nav and wireless phone charging, too.
There's plenty of personalisation on offer across the range, while FR cars get a sharper look and bigger wheels. Like most small SUV rivals, the Arona isn't the sportiest car to drive, but it's better than most, while the sprightly engines mean all cars feel responsive.
Overall, the Arona delivers more space than an Ibiza, and is better to drive than most of its rivals, while the looks are funky enough to stand out without compromising the car's practicality. This blend of style and functional usability led to the Arona being named Best Small SUV in our 2019 Driver Power Survey. Prices for the range start at around £18,000, climbing to over £26,000 for top-spec Xcellence Lux versions.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe SEAT Arona is a well-rounded small SUV, with refined engines and generous standard equipment
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Arona is hardly rewarding to drive, but it is comfortable, composed and refined
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLean three-cylinder petrol engine promises decent economy
- 4Interior, design and technologyNeat, sophisticated design with standard contrast roof and plenty of colour options
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA fair amount of space, but few of the practical tricks required to make it a genuine alternative to a family hatchback
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe SEAT Arona should be a dependable and safe family car, as it uses many tried and tested VW Group parts